New Yorker

How many reasons do we need to #StopAdani #Auspol ?

1. Fossil fuels are destroying the world’s coral UNESCO Report

2. Climate change driven by fossil fuels is causing global conflict. Breakthrough Online


3. Air pollution (mainly coal) is killing millions Washington Post

4. Clean renewable energy is cheaper than coal. Forbes.com

5. Clean energy creates more jobs e2.org

6. $56 billion reasons to #StopAdani and protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is too big to fail ABC

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-26/great-barrier-reef-valued-56b-deloitte/8649936

SMH.COMu

Rob Pyne Video

Bloomberg calls “bullshit” on clean coal #auspol 

Michael Bloomberg an outspoken environmentalist and former New York City mayor, had some harsh words for carbon capture and storage, the unproven technology that proponents say will turn fossil fuels into “clean” energy sources.
“Carbon capture is total bullshit” and “a figment of the imagination,” Bloomberg said on Monday, addressing a crowd at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance summit in New York.
Carbon capture involves taking the emissions from coal and natural gas-burning power plants and industrial facilities, then burying the carbon deep underground or repurposing it for fertilizers and chemicals. The idea is that by trapping emissions before they enter the atmosphere, we can limit their contribution to human-caused climate change.
Climate experts say it will be next to impossible to eliminate the world’s emissions without carbon capture systems. The International Energy Agency has called the technology “essential,” given that countries are likely to keep burning coal, oil, and natural gas for decades to come.
 Michael Bloomberg, billionaire, former NYC mayor, prominent environmentalist and major coal critic.

Michael Bloomberg, billionaire, former NYC mayor, prominent environmentalist and major coal critic.
Image: joe raedle/Getty Images
But to Bloomberg and other critics, that’s precisely the problem. By investing billions of dollars into carbon capture, countries can effectively delay the inevitable — the end of fossil fuels — and postpone investments in genuinely cleaner energy, such as wind and solar power.
So far, only a handful of carbon capture projects even exist around the world, and many of them have faced steep cost overruns and delays. The Kemper Project in Mississippi — billed as America’s “flagship” carbon capture project — is more than $4 billion over budget and still not operational.
Yet President Donald Trump and many coal industry leaders talk about carbon capture as if it’s already solved the nation’s energy challenges. If we have “clean coal,” why invest in alternatives?
Bloomberg has also used aggressive language to express disdain for the coal industry.
“I don’t have much sympathy for industries whose products leave behind a trail of diseased and dead bodies,” he wrote in his new book, Climate of Hope, which he co-authored with former Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope.
“But for everyone’s sake, we should aim to put them out of business,” Bloomberg said.

 Scott Pruitt, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, speaks with coal miners in Pennsylvania.
Scott Pruitt, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, speaks with coal miners in Pennsylvania.
Image: ustin Merriman/Getty Images
The billionaire media mogul has donated some $80 million to the Sierra Club to help the environmental group shut down coal-fired power plants as part of its Beyond Coal campaign.
More than 250 U.S. coal plants have shut down or committed to retire since the campaign began in 2011. Many of those closures came as natural gas prices plummeted, prompting utilities to ditch coal, and as federal clean air and water rules made it too costly to upgrade aging coal plants.
Of the nation’s more than 500 coal plants, only 273 now remain open, and Bloomberg’s philanthropy arm and the Sierra Club are working to shutter those, too.
The former mayor also recently announced a new coal-related donation. Bloomberg told the Associated Press that he plans to donate $3 million to organizations that help unemployed coal miners and their communities find new economic opportunities.
Bloomberg Philanthropies highlighted the struggles of miners in a new film, From the Ashes, to be featured at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York this week.
Coal miners “have paid a terrible price,” he told the AP.

Press link for more: Mashable.com

Climate of Hope #auspol #doughnuteconomics 

Michael Bloomberg Says Cities Must Now Lead The Way On Climate Change

Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope 

Outside of Washington, D.C., however, the prospects for climate action look more favorable. You can point to what’s happening at the city level, where mayors are promoting low-carbon buildings, electric cars, and more resilient infrastructure. You can point to the energy industry in general, which seems more concerned with market signals than political signals. And you can point to how strong majorities of Americans want politicians to accept and face up to global warming.
In their new book, Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, the former executive director of the Sierra Club, argue that a beyond-D.C. approach offers the best opportunity for dealing with climate change. Mayors have more autonomy than national leaders, they say. They’re more accountable to voters for dealing with climate-related problems like pollution and extreme weather events. They originate most of the emissions that cause climate change, and they face the greatest threats from its impacts. And urban populations are generally more supportive of climate action than rural ones.
“Mayors tend to be more pragmatic and less ideological than national legislators, because they are more accountable to voters, and more visible,” former New York City Mayor Bloomberg writes. “The public can see what mayors do, while it’s harder to understand what elected officials at the state level do . . . and much harder at the federal level.”
Empower Cities To Lead
If cities are going to be centers of climate action, they need more tools for the job. “Giving more cities authority to take action on their own–particularly on energy and transportation–is one of the most important steps we can take to address climate change,” Bloomberg writes in the book.
If the Trump administration decides to leave the Paris climate agreement, Bloomberg says U.S. cities should consider joining the accord in their own capacity. “Washington will not have the last word on the fate of the Paris Agreement in the U.S.–mayors will, together with business leaders and citizens,” he wrote in a New York Times op-ed last year.
That independence could also include allowing them to make choices independent of state or federal authority on where they buy electricity (only six states currently sanction this). Twenty-five U.S. cities have now committed to buy all their power from renewable sources.
Or it could mean borrowing money for climate investments more easily. Only 4% of the world’s cities currently have their own credit ratings, enabling them to enter financial markets, Pope says. Others don’t have the power to raise taxes, including many in Africa and South America.

Press link for more: fastcompany.com

The Solution Is Global Equality #auspol 

The Solution To Extremism Is Global Equality

By Stephan Said
The solution to extremism surrounding us today is global equality. 

To stop the religious, ethnic, and political extremism killing people from Colorado Springs, to Baghdad, San Bernardino and Bamako — to stop the environmental extremism that is burning up our planet — we must stop global inequality, imperialism and greed.
The entire human race is faced with a great ideological dilemma. 

We cannot separate ISIL, planned-parenthood shooters, or global warming. From extreme violence to extreme weather, extremism is rising like the oceans around us because the moral bankruptcy of our troubled world is pushing people and our planet to extremes — suicide bombings and natural disasters.
What we are witnessing is the failure of all existing ideologies and socio-economic systems on earth to have created a sustainable society in which we live in peace. 

We are all responsible for this failure. 

We have destroyed the cradle of civilization, killed millions and created the biggest refugee crisis in generations, for the control of the oil that is making the ice caps melt. 

Anyone who is angry is justified.
However mistaken violent extremism is as a response, it is offering would-be recruits a way to do something to change this unjust world not tomorrow, but today. 

If we want to win this war, we can only do so by lifting a higher, universal ideology by which humankind can live in peace with each other and with nature.
This ideological war is as old as human civilization, and so is the answer. 

No civilization is sustainable unless all of its members are treated as equals, and unless that civilization lives in harmony with nature.

Writers such as Arundhati Roy, Thomas Piketty, Nicolas Henin and Naomi Klein have drawn these connections in recent articles. But, the fact is, humankind has known the deal for thousands of years. We don’t have time to waste restating the obvious. It is urgent. The human race is facing its long-anticipated day of reckoning with its own failure to create a just world.
We have to pick up the torch where Martin Luther King, Jr. left it. 

The cause of global warming and of rising violence between us on earth is due to social and economic inequality. The answer is to organize a mass, global non-violent movement for equality.
We must get beyond the institutional language of a “more equitable world.” Equality is a universal way of being that must become a new socio-economic order that commits to and promises the idea that all people everywhere live equally with each other and nature.
We must demand a united global society across borders. 

We must demand every human being is cared for, fed, housed, educated, given equal voice and dignity, everywhere. We must demand a world in which humankind restores everything we take from nature. 

We must demand that we leave our world better than we found it, not selfishly for our children, but out of deference to the laws of nature itself.


First and foremost we must demand this of ourselves, as it will take unbelievable tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness to do so. 

Then, we must demand this of our governments, religions, political parties, and economic forces, and we must be willing to go into the streets non-violently demanding this global shift.
When we accept that we are all equals with each other and nature, we will not be able to be manipulated and separated from each other by false notions such as ethnicity, religiosity, nationality, or superiority of any kind. This is the only way to peace.
Peace is not impossible. 

I know, because I am the impossible.

 My aunt and cousins from Mosul, Iraq are now refugees because ISIL occupied their next-door neighbors’ house. 

The U.S. sent fighter jets and bombed it to the ground. They had to abandon everything and are somewhere across the border in Turkey.
My father’s Iraqi, Muslim family are refugees for the same reason that my mother’s Austrian, part-Catholic part-Jewish family were refugees and imprisoned or died in Dachau, Mauthausen and Auschwitz.

 Including my cousins’ children today, 6 consecutive generations of my family have been refugees as Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, because of inequality.
With all sides of the prevailing conflict consuming our world today within me, I’ve spent my life studying the single cause of war and hatred simply to be at peace with and construct my own identity. Inequality is the single cause of the chaos enveloping our world.
The majority of us on earth, in every country, in every religion, of every ethnicity knows what we have to do. 

Many people, parents, teachers, governments, and organizations are already working on the systemic shift necessary for the survival of humankind and our planet.

 I have given my entire career and written countless songs to build such a movement. But now, we must come together and turn our demand into action.
We are faced with the task of creating a new global socio-economic model sufficient to create sustainable peace on earth. A mass non-violent movement demanding that all people live equally with each other, loving each other, caring for our planet, is the only solution. 

We have to start today.
Press link for more: Huffington Post

Why We need Nikola Tesla to fight Climate Change #auspol #qldpol #science

By John F. Wasik

Nikola Tesla, the genius inventor of alternating current, radio and robotics, still provides uplifting guidance in this time of automation, climate change, globalization and political division.
Tesla died in 1943 at the age of 86, but his time has come again — particularly in light of the Trump administration’s decision earlier this week to roll back the progressive environmental policies that former President Barack Obama championed.
Adopting Tesla’s vision involves a new way of thinking about our relationship to the planet. Although great environmentalists like Teddy Roosevelt, John Burroughs and John Muir were articulating this new role during Tesla’s lifetime, world leaders today will also need to embrace Pope Francis’s radical “integral ecology.”

That means adopting a holistic approach to energy — intensive activities and tossing self-centered, widely held attitudes that takes man out of the center of his Ptolemaic universe.

Pope Francis, in his Laudato Si encyclical, doesn’t dispute the science behind climate change. The planet is getting hotter and man-made activities have some part in it. Last year was the hottest 12 months on record.
We need to get over ourselves and do something about the situation.
By “greening” all of the major systems of civilization — energy, transportation, manufacturing, building and consumer consumption — we can implement national networks of renewable energy and production.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order that begins the process of reversing climate change policies put in place by President Barack Obama, including his predecessor’s Clean Power Plan. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday has the details. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
Tesla was a firm believer in green energy. He supported hydro, geothermal and solar power more than 100 years ago. His vision for wireless power is still a major engineering challenge. Yet what if we produced clean energy from 24/7 sunlight in space and beamed it down to our planet? Many engineers are working on this problem across the world.
Although Tesla’s alternating current systems power most of the world’s electrical grid, he saw the dangers of burning fossil fuels to generate electricity. It’s still a massive problem contributing to global warming.
Since the earth is a closed-loop system, integral ecology recognizes the fact that we can’t keep extracting resources forever. A growing world population will demand more and more of the planet to sustain us.
As physicist and systems theorist Fritjof Capra writes:
“At the very heart of our global crisis lies the illusion that unlimited growth is possible on a finite planet…In this economic system, the irrational belief in perpetual growth is carried on relentlessly by promoting excessive consumption and a throwaway economy that is energy and resource intensive, generating waste and pollution, and depleting the Earth’s natural resources.”
How can we provide enough fertilizer and arable land to growing countries? How do we conserve water where it’s most needed? How do we switch over from burning fossil fuels in every country to a renewable portfolio of solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydrogen systems? How do we replace SUVs and McMansions with highly efficient, healthy homes?
All of these ideas have been on the table for decades, although progress has been made most notably in Northern Europe, which is working toward ambitious goals to free itself from fossil fuels and create a renewable energy grid.
The biggest obstacle to change has been our human-centered entitlement to global resources, which should be transformed to a responsible sharing of the commons, not an increasingly privatized resource. The earth can be managed more like a public library, not a buffet.
Ultimately, the almost immutable human mantra “it’s all about me” needs to be swapped with a shared prosperity and purpose “made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness,” the Pope notes.
Focus on quality of life over quantity of goods.

The most radical concept of all to be considered by world leaders? How to replace the damaging, universal dogma of economic growth with what the Pope calls “authentic humanity.”
That means more efficient and hospitable cities that embrace the poor, smaller/local commerce, better public transportation, respect for all species, and a new focus on quality of life over quantity of goods.

In crafting a truly integral approach that treats ecology, economics and ethics as points on an equilateral triangle, we’ll not only be addressing climate change, but safeguarding our deeper spiritual journey on this bountiful planet. Since Tesla was fervent advocate of world peace, he would’ve endorsed this worldview.
But to achieve this mission, we need to adhere to some of Tesla’s principles. We must visualize, conceptualize, and create solutions, then aggressively collaborate to make them blossom. Ecology is about relationships, but nothing can happen without consensus and cooperation.
John F. Wasik is a journalist, speaker, and the author of 17 books. 

This column is adapted from Lightning Strikes; Timeless Lessons in Creativity from the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla (Sterling, 2016)

Press link for more: Market Watch

The Slow Confiscation of Everything #auspol 

The Slow Confiscation of Everything

By Laurie Penny 


A protest against EPA head Scott Pruitt. / Lorie Shaull
These days, the words of the prophets are written in whimsical chalk on the hoardings of hipster latte-mongers: “The end is nigh. Coffee helps.”

 In the days running up to the inauguration of Donald Trump, I saw this sort of message everywhere, and as panic-signals go, it’s oddly palliative. 

The idea that the Western world might soon be a smoking crater or a stinking swamp does, in fact, make me a little more relaxed about the prospect of spending five dollars on a hot drink.  
Fuck it. 

The planet, as we keep telling each other, is on fire. 

Might as well have a nice latte while we wait for the flames to slobber up our ankles. 

When you consider that some desperate barista boiled the entire philosophy of post-Fordist public relations down to its acrid essence, it would be ungrateful not to. 

What have you got to lose? 

Five dollars and your pride, in the short term, but what will those be worth next year? 

Next week? 

Have you looked at the Dow Jones lately? 

Have you turned on the news? 

On second thoughts, best not—just drink your coffee and calm down. 

Look, they’ve drawn a little mushroom cloud in the milk foam. 

It’s quite beautiful, when you think about it. 
The topic of apocalypse comes up a lot these days. 

It’s slipped into conversation as compulsively as you might mention any other potentially distressing disruption to your life plans, such as a family member’s illness, or a tax audit. 

And yet the substance of the conversation has shifted in recent weeks and months from an atmosphere of chronic to acute crisis. 

The end seems to be slightly more nigh than it was last year; we talk about the Trumpocalypse with less and less irony as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the Doomsday clock half a minute closer to midnight. 
Of all the despicable things the runaway ghost train of the Trump administration has done in its first ferocious weeks, the attempt to utterly destroy every instrument of environmental protection is perhaps the most permanent.

 The appointment of fossil fuel tycoons and fanatical climate change deniers to key positions in energy and foreign policy, the immediate reinstitution of the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines, the promise to pull out of the Paris Climate Pact—all moves crafted to please the oil magnates who helped put him in power—these are changes that will hasten the tick of the time bomb under civilization as we know it. 

Racist laws can eventually be overthrown, and even a cultural backslide toward bigotry and nationalism can be slowly, painfully reversed. 

We don’t get a do-over on climate change. 

The vested interests agitating to strip the planet for parts know that, too—and they plan to profit from this particular apocalypse as hard as they can.
They’re not the only ones eagerly anticipating the end times. 

Apocalyptic thinking has a long and febrile history in Western thought, and it is usually associated with moments of profound cultural change, when people found it all but impossible to envision a future they might live inside. 

The notion of armageddon as something to look forward to crops up time and again at moments of profound social unrest. 

Today, that includes legions of lonely alt-righters celebrating the advent of a new post-democratic, post-civilizational age where men will be real men again, and women will be really grateful. 


This “dark enlightenment” rumbles alongside a massive revival in millenarian end-times fanaticism among the Evangelical Christians who overwhelmingly voted for a man some of them believe is the literal antichrist who will hasten the final return of Jesus and his arse-kicking angels to sweep the righteous to their reward. 

There are many millions of people, especially in the United States, who seem to want an apocalypse—a word whose literal meaning is a great “unveiling,” a moment of calamity in which the murkiest and basest of human terrors will be mercifully swept aside. 

That gentle armageddon, however, looks unlikely to be delivered. 

Frightened, angry human beings have always fantasized about the end of the world—and institutions of power have always profited from that fantasy. 

In fact, as David Graeber notes in Debt: The First 5,000 Years, the ideal psychological culture for the current form of calamity capitalism is an apprehension of coming collapse mated bluntly with the possibility of individual escape. 

An economy driven by debt and fueled by looting and burning the resources that have sustained the species for generations would feel far more monstrous if it weren’t for the lingering suspicion that it might all be in flames tomorrow anyway.

 The world is on fire. 

Might as well build that pipeline. 

Might as well have that coffee.

But what world is on fire? 

The late comedian George Carlin had it right when he reminded us that

 “The planet is fine. The people are fucked.” 

The Earth is resilient, and will stagger on in some form until it is swallowed by the sun some four billion years from now—the world that we envision ending is Western civilization as we have come to understand it, a mere eyeblink in the long species churn of planetary history. 

Apocalyptic thinking has been a consistent refrain as the human species struggles to evolve beyond its worst impulses, but the precise form of the anticipated collapse always changes. 

Those changes are important. 

The catastrophes we are anticipating today are not the catastrophes of thirty years ago, and that distinction matters a great deal.
Climate change is this generation’s calamity, and it is similar to the nuclear threat that nurtured the baby boomers in that it promises a different sort of death from the petty disasters of war, famine, and pestilence—it promises near-total species collapse. 

The past swept away along with the future. 

The deletion of collective memory. 

This is an existential threat more profound than anything humanity has had to reckon with before except in the throes of ecstatic religious millenarianism.

 Rapture, in the Abrahamic understanding, traditionally meant immortality for the species.

 We are the first to really have to wrestle with ultimate species death, extinction in memory as well as being.

 Of course we are afraid. 

We were afraid of the Bomb. 

We’re afraid now, even though many people’s understanding of climate change hasn’t moved past the denial stage.

 It is there, however, that the similarities between the two types of apocalypse end.
Climate change is a different prospect of calamity—not just elementally but morally different from nuclear exchange in a manner which has not been properly dealt with. 

The first difference is that it’s definitely happening. 

The second is that it’s not happening to everyone. 
There will be no definite moment can say that yes, today we are fucked, and yesterday we were unfucked.

For anyone who grew up in the Cold War, the apocalypse was a simple yes-no question: either it was coming, or it wasn’t. 

Many people I know who grew up before the end of the nuclear arms race describe this as oddly freeing: there was the sense that since the future might explode at any point, it was not worth the effort of planning. 

Climate change is species collapse by a thousand cuts. 

There will be no definite moment we can say that yes, today we are fucked, and yesterday we were unfucked. 

Instead the fuckery increases incrementally year on year, until this is the way the world ends: not with a bang, not with a bonfire, but with the slow and savage confiscation of every little thing that made you human, starting with hope.


“In the U.S. we have a very strong sense of apocalypse that comes from puritanism, and it fed nicely into fears about the Bomb,” says Annalee Newitz, author of Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive A Mass Extinction.

 “Both kinds of apocalypse are instantaneous and there’s not much you can do about them. 

But climate change is slow and strange, sometimes imperceptible in a human lifetime. 

There are no pyrotechnics. 

Plus, we actually have a chance to intervene and prevent the worst effects of it. 

I think that’s a tough sell for people who grew up with a Bomb paradigm of apocalypse, where there’s either fiery atomic death or you’re fine. 

It’s hard to explain to people that there are probabilities and gradations of apocalypse when it comes to the environment, and there are hundreds of ways to mitigate it, from curbing emissions to preserving natural habitats and changing our agricultural practices. 

In a weird way, I think people are just now getting used to the slow apocalypse, and still don’t know how to deal with it.”
This was the unegalitarian apocalypse millennials inherited. 

If we are to define generations by their political impressions, one thing that everyone who grew up with no memory of the Cold War shares is a specific set of superstitions. 

 One of them was the consensus that neoliberalism had produced the “End of History.” 

For those of us who had not read Francis Fukuyama by the age of five, this came across as a general sense that there was no better society to hope for, no way of living on the horizon that would improve on the one we had been raised to—the nineties and the early aughts were as good as it was going to get.

 From here on in, unless we recycled and remembered to turn off the taps like the singing Saturday afternoon TV puppets urged us to, it would be slow collapse. 

Our parents, relieved of the immediate threat of atomic incineration, seemed oddly calm about that prospect.
Not half as calm, however, as our elected and unelected leaders.

 Because that’s the inconvenient truth, the other inconvenience about the world ending this way: it’s not ending for everyone.
This month, in a fascinating article for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos interviewed several multi-millionaires who are stockpiling weapons and building private bunkers in anticipation of what preppers glibly call “SHTF”—the moment when “Shit Hits The Fan.” 

Osnos observes that the reaction of Silicon Valley Svengalis, for example, is in stark contrast to previous generations of the super-rich, who saw it as a moral duty to give back to their community in order to stave off ignorance, want and social decline. 

Family names like Carnegie and Rockefeller are still associated with philanthropy in the arts and sciences. 

These people weren’t just giving out of the goodness of their hearts, but out of the sense that they too were stakeholders in the immediate future.
Cold War leaders came to the same conclusions in spite of themselves.

 The thing about Mutually Assured Destruction is that it is, well, mutual—like aid, or understanding, or masturbation.

 The idea is that the world explodes, or doesn’t, for everyone. 

How would the Cuban Missile Crisis have gone down, though, if the negotiating parties had known, with reasonable certainty, that they and their families would be out of reach of the fallout? 
How would the Cuban Missile Crisis have gone down if the negotiating parties had known that they and their families would be out of reach of the fallout?

Today’s apocalypse will be unevenly distributed.

 It’s not the righteous who will be saved, but the rich—at least for a while.

 The irony is that the tradition of apocalyptic thinking—religious, revolutionary or both—has often involved the fantasy of the destruction of class and caste. 

For many millenarian thinkers—including the puritans in whose pinched shoes the United States is still sneaking about—the rapture to come would be a moment of revelation, where all human sin would be swept away. 

Money would no longer matter. 

Poor and privileged alike would be judged on the riches of their souls. 

That fantasy is extrapolated in almost every modern disaster movie—the intrepid survivors are permitted to negotiate a new-made world in which all that matters is their grit, their courage, and their moral fiber. 
A great many modern political currents, especially the new right and the alt-right, are swept along by the fantasy of a great civilizational collapse which will wash away whichever injustice most bothers you, whether that be unfettered corporate influence, women getting above themselves, or both—any and every humiliation heaped on the otherwise empty tables of men who had expected more from their lives, economic humiliations that are served up and spat back out as racism, sexism, and bigotry. 

For these men, the end of the world sounds like a pretty good deal. 

More and more, it is only by imagining the end of the world that we can imagine the end of capitalism in its current form. This remains true even when it is patently obvious that civilizational collapse might only be survivable by the elite.
When it was announced that the Doomsday Clock had moved closer to midnight, I panicked for an entire day before realizing that, like a great many people, I didn’t know what the Doomsday Clock actually was.

 In case you were wondering, it’s not actually a real clock. 

It’s a visual representation of certain scientists’ estimation of how close human society is to catastrophe, published on the front cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1947—a genius exercise in metonymy and public relations conceived in an age when the problem was not that people were panicking about the end of the world, but that they weren’t panicking enough. 

There is no sympathetic magic at play: if a drunk sub-editor got into the layout program and moved the portentous second hand all the way to Zero Hour on a whim, no rockets would fire of their own accord. 

This apocalypse is still within our power to prevent—and that starts with abandoning the apocalyptic mindset.
It is hard to outline the contours of a future you have never been allowed to imagine—one that is both different from today but accessible from it, too. 

The best we have been permitted to hope for is that the status quo be scraped to the edges of the present for as long as it lasts—a vote to run the knife around the empty jar of neoliberal aspiration and hope there’s enough to cover our asses.

 If people cannot imagine a future for themselves, all they can measure is what they’ve lost. 

Those who believe in the future are left, as they always were, with the responsibility of creating it, and that begins with an act of faith—not just that the future will be survivable, but that it might, somehow, maybe, be an exciting place to live. 
“Every ruthless criticism of current politics should be tied in some way to an example of how we could do things better,” said Newitz. “I realize that’s a tall order, especially when positive visions often feel like wishful thinking rather than direct action. Nevertheless we need to know what we are fighting for to retain our sense of hope. We need maps of where we are going, not just fire to burn it all down.”

Press link for more: The Baffler.com

The New BATTLE PLAN for the Planet’s Climate Crisis #auspol 

The New Battle Plan for the Planet’s Climate Crisis


Calling the Trump energy and environment squad “climate deniers” is like pointing out that your local crew of meth heads has bad teeth.

 It’s true, and it also confuses symptom with disease.
Let’s be clear. 

2016 was the warmest year ever measured, smashing records set in 2015 and 2014. 


Global warming is no longer a worry for the future – we’re in the midst of the greatest crisis humans have yet faced.

 So despite the acknowledgment among some Trump nominees during confirmation hearings that “climate is changing” and “man has had an influence,” when Scott Pruitt, designated to head the EPA, said last year “scientists continue to disagree” about climate change, he was telling a big and consequential lie: Science clearly understands that burning coal and gas and oil is rapidly warming the planet. 

When Energy Secretary pick Rick Perry insisted that climate change is a “contrived, phony mess,” and speculated that the Earth has begun to cool, he was nuts – there are tens of thousands of scientists across the globe who have spent decades narrowing the error bars of their predictions, even as thawing glaciers and rapidly acidifying oceans make it clear they’re correct.



 When Interior designee Ryan Zinke blamed “rising ocean temperatures” for climate change, he wasn’t even being coherent: Why would the oceans suddenly be getting hotter all by themselves? 

Walruses peeing?
But it’s not as if Dr. Pruitt called up Dr. Zinke one day to say, “My reading of the paleoclimatic record makes me think that previous interglacial temperature increases led, not lagged, carbon growth.” And then they didn’t page Dr. Perry on the set of Dancing With the Stars to share their conclusions.
No, something else came before climate denial, and that something is: Fossil Fuel Infatuation. 

These guys know nothing about science, but they love coal and oil and gas – they come from big carbon states like Oklahoma and Texas, and their careers have been lubed and greased with oil money.

 Rex Tillerson, slated to be our secretary of state, has literally never worked for any other cause – he got his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas in 1975 and immediately went to work for Exxon as a “production engineer.” When he goes to work for the U.S. government, it will be the second employer he’s ever had.
These men are the fossil-fuel industry – there’s no boundary.

 Pruitt once wrote a letter to the EPA he now will head, lambasting it (entirely incorrectly, as the facts would later show) for overestimating the air pollution that gas drilling was producing in Oklahoma.

 Actually, he sent the letter, but he didn’t write it – that was the work of Devon Energy, a local leader in fracking. 

The company gave him $5,000 for his attorney-general campaign in 2014, part of the $114,000 he collected from energy interests alone. Nothing has dented his crush, including the fact that Oklahoma, until very recently a seismically uninteresting corner of the continent, has become America’s earthquake capital, as fracking wastewater is injected into geological faults. 

Their clinical infatuation runs as deep as the drill bit on the Deepwater Horizon: Cutting oil production is “not acceptable for humanity,” Tillerson has told Exxon shareholders.

 “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee member Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., points to a chart as he questions Environmental Protection Agency Administrator-designate, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, during Pruitt’s confirmation hearing before the committee
Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse questions EPA Administrator-designate Scott Pruitt during Pruitt’s January 18th confirmation hearing. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The moral case for fossil fuels has its roots in the idea that coal, and then oil and gas, transformed civilization.

 Which is true: When we learned, early in the 18th century, to burn coal, it gave each of us in the Western world the equivalent of an entourage of slaves. A barrel of oil, by some calculations, is equal to 23,000 hours of muscle-powered work. 

Suddenly we could move ourselves great distances, and most of us could abandon the farm.

 One could argue whether these were changes for the better; some of our sense of rootlessness and disconnection comes with this freedom. 

But it was transformational – that part of the argument is undeniable.

For Trump’s crew, however, the past is forever prologue. 

If fossil fuel was good in the 18th century, it must be good in the 21st. 

They can’t imagine, for example, that the rest of the world might develop without coal and gas and oil. 

“There are still hundreds of millions, billions of people living in abject poverty around the world,” Tillerson told the Council on Foreign Relations in 2012.

 “They’d love to burn fossil fuels because their quality of life would rise immeasurably, and their quality of health and the health of their children and their future would rise immeasurably.”
This happy picture depends on ignoring the side effects of fossil-fuel burning.

 The biggest study to date shows that 100 million people in developing countries will die from fossil-fuel combustion between now and 2030 – some from the effects of global warming, but more from breathing smoke. 

Beijing closed its schools in mid-December because the smog was too bad to go outside; in New Delhi, an estimated half of the city’s 4.4 million children now have irreversible lung damage. 

That’s why China and India are trying desperately to move away from fossil fuels: China’s coal consumption has begun to slide, and India has announced a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants. 

Oklahoma may still be enamored with fossil fuels, but the rest of the planet is moving on.
And lucky for them, they have an alternative, which is the other thing the Denier-in-Chief and his Cabinet want desperately to ignore: renewable energy, primarily sun and wind. 
All of a sudden clean power is not just available, it’s cheap. 

A spate of headlines in mid-December declared that solar was now in fact the cheapest energy on Earth. The headlines were based on new research by Bloomberg, which showed that for new power from Chile to India to South Africa, “renewables are robustly entering the era of undercutting” fossil-fuel prices.
All of which is to say: If you’re a utility in the developing world, you’re probably building a big solar farm. And if you’re in a hut somewhere that’s never been reached by fossil fuel, you’re almost certainly better off buying a cheap solar panel than you are waiting for the central government to build the wires and poles to your house. The “moral argument” for fossil fuels has collapsed.


View of Xinyi photo-voltaic power station on August 21, 2016 in Songxi, China.

The Xinyi photo-voltaic power station in Songxi, China Feature China/Barcroft Images/Getty

But renewables denial has not collapsed.

It’s now at least as ugly and insidious as its twin sister, Climate Denial.

 The same men who insist that the physicists are wrong about global warming also insist that sun and wind can’t supply our energy needs anytime soon. 

This argument comes in many forms, all of them being outpaced by technology. 

There’s the classic “the sun goes down at night” argument, which ignores the fact that battery storage has begun to fall as steeply in price as solar panels themselves. 

There’s “we need liquid fuels to drive our cars,” which ignores the advent of, say, Tesla. And there’s the idea that renewable technologies are some kind of faddish toys. 

Exxon won’t invest heavily in renewable energy, Tillerson told his shareholders in 2015, because “we choose not to lose money on purpose.”

 In fact, fossil fuel has been among the worst-performing sectors of the stock market for several years; investors are now piling more money into renewables, because that’s clearly where growth will come.

In the long run, Renewables Denial will give way to economics.

 You can tell it’s a scam because they’re using the same language and arguments they used a decade ago, even as the price of a solar panel has dropped 80 percent. 

But that’s where Climate Denial becomes such a dangerous companion. 

The rapidly deteriorating climate means that there is no “long run,” only the urgent need to change much faster than economics will push the transition by itself. 

We have to retire fossil-fueled power plants before their economic lifetime is over – that’s what Obama’s Clean Power Plan does. And we have to keep fossil fuels in the ground to spur the speedier transition to renewables – that’s why blocking the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines were such crucial accomplishments. 

They served notice to investors that there was a lot less easy money left to be made in fossil fuel. (Trump moved to revive both pipelines this week.)
And that is why the Koch brothers and the American Petroleum Institute and other arms of the fossil-fuel industry have played the political game so fiercely. 

They know all about the long run – hell, as good investigative reporting over the past 18 months has demonstrated, Exxon knew about climate change before almost anyone else. 

But the company also knows there are trillions to be made if it can postpone that action for a few more decades, even at the cost of wrecking the planet. 

Every year Exxon issues a new energy forecast, and every year it shows fossil fuels still providing most of the planet’s power by midcentury, never mind the skyrocketing temperature or the plummeting cost of solar. 

Now, Exxon’s accounting will be the nation’s – replacing the mathematics laid out in the Paris Agreement a year ago. Trump may not be able to kill it outright, but he can certainly make sure that we don’t keep our pledges, tempting the rest of the world to backslide.

Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson addresses a keynote speech during the World Gas Conference in Paris on June 2, 2015. 

Then ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson at the 2015 World Gas Conference. Tillerson is slated to be Trump’s secretary of state. ERic Piermont/Getty

Which means that the opposition will need to be savvy and dynamic, focused constantly on keeping the momentum of the energy transition growing, not slowing. Everything depends on pace – only if we can keep renewable power galloping ahead do we have a chance of catching up with climate change. 

So first things first: Mark April 29th on your calendar, because the climate movement will convene in D.C. to show that the election didn’t cancel physics. Politicians need to be reminded, even as they do the bidding of the industry, that the rest of us are watching. 

That march will mark 100 days of the Trump administration; his early surge can’t be avoided, but it can be slowed.

But many of the most consequential battles won’t be in D.C. at all. Instead, look for powerful action around the nation from:
The divestment movement. 

It’s already the largest anti-corporate campaign of its kind in history, and it will need to grow larger, depriving the industry of both capital and social license. 

When protesters took the Standing Rock fight to the lobbies of Wells Fargo and TD Bank branches, they served notice that it’s not just the politicians who need to pay attention – it’s also the money guys.
The Keep It in the Ground campaign. 

Every piece of fossil-fuel infrastructure will have to be contested.

 Since the Keystone fight launched this phase of the battle, campaigners have grown adept at using courts and local governments to block and slow pipelines and coal ports, frack wells and natural-gas terminals. Every month of delay adds new costs; every layer of uncertainty makes it harder for investors to justify. 

Frontline communities have been remarkable at running these fights – the nonviolent discipline of the Standing Rock Sioux has written a dramatic new chapter in the history of political resistance. The rest of us can follow their example.
State and local governments. 

They can lead this energy transition even if Washington won’t. California may emerge as the crucial focus – with the world’s sixth-largest economy, it’s big enough that it can innovate even as D.C. stagnates. New York is in a similar position – between them, the two giant states stand a chance of actually making America great, not with Trumpish nostalgia but with innovation. 

California Gov. Jerry Brown has even talked about putting up climate satellites to replace the ones that NASA may be shutting down. But even the best governors and mayors will need constant pushes from activists – for instance, the Oregon campaigners who last fall turned Portland into the first major U.S. city to ban new fossil-fuel infrastructure.
We won’t win many battles in the White House and on Capitol Hill – in fact, the early months of the new administration will come with many painful defeats as the fossil-fuel industry wish list is adopted.

 Expect federal land to be leased for drilling willy-nilly; expect frack wells to be freed from even minimal regulation. We need to fight every one of these changes, and with Bernie Sanders-level passion. 


That’s because, over time, both Climate and Renewables Denial will take their toll on Trump’s standing.

 People aren’t stupid – with Mother Nature and the electric bill constantly conspiring to spread reality, the backward-looking greed of this wrecking crew will eventually be seen for what it is.
The question, of course, is whether “eventually” will take too long for the planet. We can’t know the answer – only the certainty that the harder we work, the better the odds.

Press link for more: Rollingstone.com

Wind energy creates jobs. #auspol 

US wind energy jobs reach 100,000 according to US DOE
Employment in the US wind energy industry is higher than that at nuclear, natural gas, coal, or hydroelectric power plants according to the DOE. These wind jobs can be found across the nation, with nearly 25 percent of American wind workers being employed in Texas alone. More growth in the industry is possible, according to DOE’s Wind Vision report, with the potential to create 380,000 jobs by 2030.
“Wind means opportunity and job security for over 100,000 Americans” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “The Department of Energy’s new jobs data underscore the incredible impact of wind power in creating American jobs. Wind workers directly contribute to our nation’s energy independence and economic success story. We’re especially proud of helping America’s veterans find well-paying jobs after their service, employing them at a rate that is 50 percent higher than the national average.”
DOE’s new data validates the jobs growth reported in AWEA’s own annual report. At the end of 2015, AWEA estimated 88,000 Americans were employed in the US wind industry, a 20 percent increase from 2014 levels. Given near-record amounts of wind power under construction and recent wind manufacturing facility expansions in states like Colorado, Florida, Texas, and Wisconsin, AWEA expects wind industry employment grew significantly in 2016.
AWEA’s detailed jobs analysis, including state-by-state breakdowns, will be released this spring as part of the US Wind Industry’s Annual Market Report 2016.

Press link for more: Renewable Energy

Cities can pick up nations’ slack on combating climate change #C40 #auspol 

By Nick Stockton

Mexico City is rebranding itself … as Mexico City. In English, that sounds bizarre. But, for nearly 200 years, the capital’s official name has been Distrito Federal, emphasizing its status as the nation’s political center. That changed this January, when city leaders announced they were changing the city’s name to reflect a wave of changes giving the supermetropolis more autonomy. So, Ciudad de México. Or, per the new logo: CDMX.

The CDMX logo flaps on skinny rectangular pennants over shoppers wading through the central city’s busy avenues. It is stenciled on police pickup trucks, their beds filled with smiling, relaxed — albeit riot-geared and rifle-toting — cops. The mayor even ordered the city’s taxicab owners to paint the entire fleet of 140,000 taxis pink and white, CDMX’s official colors. And those cabs weave around accordion-bellied MetroBuses bearing giant CDMX decals.
The branding is especially thick in the city’s museum and monument-filled central district. Especially around the towering Hilton Reforma Hotel. And especially during the last week of November, when the hotel hosted the C40 Mayors Summit, a conference focused on how cities are fighting climate change. Regardless of what their home nations are doing — in spite of Trump’s election, Brexit, and other geopolitical spasms — many of them are pushing forward.
So, when Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, says “the battle for climate change will be won or lost in the cities of the world” to a packed conference room at the C40 summit, he’s only partly playing to his audience. His declaration came after C40’s executive director Mark Watts had presented the findings from Deadline2020, a 100-plus-page C40 study detailing how the organization’s 90 affiliated cities can, and are, taking rapid, impactful actions to keep the Earth from warming to the point of catastrophe. As Watts explained — his speech punctuated by a jarring tick-tock noise playing over the PA — these cities need to peak their emissions by 2020.
Deadline2020 is based on goals set out in the Paris Agreement, a U.N. treaty signed by (as of this writing) 117 countries to keep the average global temperature from rising to 2 degrees C above preindustrial levels. Actually, the Paris Agreement calls for that temperature rise — which is already happening, by the way — to stay as close to 1.5 degrees C as possible. Deadline2020 aims for that more ambitious goal.

In that frame, the next four years are critical. Climate scientists talk about “locked-in warming.” This is warming that is already destined to happen because of present emissions levels. If the C40 cities want to meet that 1.5 degrees C goal, its members need to collectively cut the average emissions of city-dwelling folks from 5.1 tons to 2.1 per person by 2020. (According to C40’s own assessment of the atmosphere’s current inventory of greenhouse gases, the world is already locked-in for 1.2 degrees C of warming. Other, more pessimistic, studies say the 1.5 degrees C goal is already blown.)
If they succeed, the cities of C40 will have contributed 40 percent of the reductions necessary to meet the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement. Come hell or high water, their home nations are largely responsible for the other 60 percent. So in that frame, “the battle for climate change will be won or lost in the cities of the world,” isn’t entirely true.
Still, as author William Sweet writes in his new book Climate Diplomacy from Rio to Paris: “If you are in a car hurtling toward a cliff or brick wall … You slam on the brakes and hope for the best.”
One big battle
Climate change–fighting actions always come down to two questions:
How much can you do?

How fast can you do it?

Those metrics are usually inversely related. Depending on income, an individual person can immediately take steps to fight climate change: Buy a Tesla, install solar panels, recycle a cardboard box, install double-paned windows, plant a tree. None of those actions, obviously, comes close to saving the world.
At the other end of the scale are nations, which can create society-wide changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But, time wise …
Just look at the pace of climate diplomacy. The U.N. first agreed that climate change was dangerous in 1992, at the Rio de Janeiro summit. It took nearly two whole decades for them to agree upon a numerical value for how much global warming counted as dangerous — 2 degrees C, in Copenhagen — and another six before signing an agreement to take action before the world reaches such dangerous warming (the aforementioned Paris Agreement, ratified this September in New York).
And while many countries have made commitments to cut their emissions — the U.S. released the Clean Power Plan to cut coal, China is rolling out cap and trade, India intends to build the world’s largest solar project — they still haven’t agreed on how to do basic stuff, like agree on a uniform, independently verifiable way of counting how much each country currently emits.
And that’s not to mention the Paris Agreement’s uncertain future. President-elect Donald Trump has sworn to withdraw the U.S.’s commitment to the international coalition, and kill the Clean Power Plan. That doesn’t necessarily knife the agreement, but it certainly damages the good faith that negotiators, U.S. and abroad, spent years building in order to get the Paris Agreement to the table.
Cities can’t save the Paris Agreement, or the world, on their own. But they can do a lot. And they can do it a lot faster, and a lot more reliably, than nations. Look at Mexico City. In 1992, it was the most polluted city on the planet. For the week of the C40 conference, the air quality was in the moderate zone — not great, but not the worst. This is thanks to laws limiting when drivers can drive, regulations forcing its taxi and bus fleets to go green, and an emphasis on making streets and neighborhoods more bike and pedestrian-friendly. All of those things, of course, also lower the city’s carbon footprint.
And cities’ environmental decisions don’t happen in a void. Urban areas are big economic players — Mexico City contributes around 16 percent of Mexico’s annual GDP — and their investments send ripples through global markets. Another example: China’s Shenzhen has begun electrifying its fleet of taxis and buses, and plans to convert private vehicles as well. That’s 15 million people whose daily travels won’t create a demand for oil.
C40 Cities came about after then-mayor of London Ken Livingstone convened mayors from 17 other cities that were already taking action on climate action. He envisioned a network in which metropoli could optimize their individual efforts by sharing ideas, data, and mistakes. Further, he and the other mayors thought the group should include 20 cities from the northern hemisphere, and 20 from the south — the 40 in C40. It’s since grown. Members include the obvious (Portland), the influential (New York), the sprawling (Johannesburg), and the growing (Addis Ababa). Between 2005 and 2016, they have taken more than 11,000 total actions to emit less, mitigate the stuff that is emitted, and fortify themselves against threats like higher tides, worse floods, and longer droughts.
Those actions aren’t always sexy, but they are tangible. Mexico City’s double-articulated MetroBuses — which move over a million people each day, keeping tens of thousands of tons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere — are a rare ooh-worthy example.
But many more are projects only a city planner could love. At the C40 summit, a ceremony held in the neoclassical courtyard of the Palacio de Minería celebrated the best sustainability projects from the previous year: Kolkata received thunderous applause for getting 60 to 80 percent better at sorting its solid waste; Sydney and Melbourne took a joint bow for prioritizing green building codes; Copenhagen earned its ovation for tackling its intermittent flooding issues (due to both sea-level rise and heavy rains) by installing what are essentially grass strips along its curbs.
Individually, each of these actions amount to decimal points against the total number of cuts needed to keep the Earth from warming 1.5 degrees C. In aggregate, they do a lot. Especially along with the 11,000 other actions taken since 2005. According to the Deadline2020 report, the C40 cities need about 14,000 new actions before 2020 to do their part in averting catastrophic warming.


Why cities?
I am cynical. So as I went from meeting to interview to plenary to more meetings at C40, I was bothered by a number mentioned in the Deadline 2020 report. It estimates that C40 cities will collectively invest more than $375 billion between now and 2020 on those 14,000 remaining actions. I could not help but wonder what was in it for the cities.
When I posed this question to Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney, she told me that cities have to spend huge amounts of money anyway, and often the green solutions are better for the city’s bottom line — transportation projects don’t just move people, they move people’s money. Greener cities also attract demographics that raise a city’s profile: millennials, creative class, young professionals; pick your buzzword, they like clean cities, and cities like them.
So, that sort of answers the why, but not the how. How do cities not get bogged down in the political divisiveness that has historically stalled climate action? “In higher levels of government, oftentimes the debates are philosophical,” Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, D.C., told me during a sit-down chat between plenaries. Nations are big enough, and their economies diverse enough, that their elected officials can exhaust years bickering over the science. “A mayor doesn’t have that as an option,” says Bowser. “You have to run the transportation systems, pick up trash, make sure kids get to school, keep the police policing, and firefighters fighting fires.” Climate change is already pressuring many of those civil services. Cities demand action.
And not only have these cities spent over a decade trading ideas (and mistakes), they have already gotten their member cities to agree on a standardized emissions accounting system: the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC). Nearly every C40 city reports its emissions using this standard. “The collection of carbon data is fundamental to everything we do at C40,” says Thomas Bailey, an energy analyst with the organization.
There’s another facet to the “why” of cities taking the lead on climate action. But first, quick question: Can you name, without calling on Google, the strongest hurricane ever recorded? (Hint: It happened last year.) No? Probably because it (Hurricane Patricia, with high winds of 215 miles per hour) made landfall in a sparsely populated part of Mexico, killing nobody.
Now imagine if that coastline had been citified. In the U.S., the odds of such a catastrophe are increasing, as coastal urban areas grow faster than anywhere else. Storms and sea-level rise aren’t the only threats. Landlocked Mexico City gets flooded annually by severe thunderstorms. And cities absorb populations when drought, famine, and other disasters make rural places uninhabitable. A city that doesn’t take climate change seriously is courting disaster.

Mexico City is filled with mementos of disaster. About a mile down the road from the Hilton Reforma is the gigantic Metropolitan Cathedral. Behind it, there used to be a large, block-size lump that locals called “island of the dogs,” after the strays that would gather there when storms flooded the surrounding streets. In the late 1970s, electrical workers were digging new lines through the lump when they hit something big: a 10 and a half foot diameter stone disk, depicting the dismembered Aztec goddess Coyolxauhqui. Over the next several years, archaeologists excavated the site to reveal the Templo Mayor, a major Aztec religious complex with a double-headed pyramid as its centerpiece.
Before Ciudad de México, before Distrito Federal, before Hernán Cortés tore down the Templo Mayor and everything around it, this place was Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec civilization. Mexico City’s living inhabitants are regularly confronted with reminders of what their city once was. Cortés and climate change are different kinds of disasters, but every city eventually gets turned into something else. Some are lucky enough to choose what they become.

Press link for more: Grist.org

Scientists identify climate ‘tipping points’#Auspol 

In the new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the scientists analysed the climate model simulations on which the recent 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are based.

They found evidence of 41 cases of regional abrupt changes in the ocean, sea ice, snow cover, permafrost and terrestrial biosphere. Many of these events occur for global warming levels of less than two degrees, a threshold sometimes presented as a safe limit. However, although most models predict one or more abrupt regional shifts, any specific occurrence typically appears in only a few models.

“This illustrates the high uncertainty in predicting tipping points,” says lead author Professor Sybren Drijfhout from Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton. “More precisely, our results show that the different state-of-the-art models agree that abrupt changes are likely, but that predicting when and where they will occur remains very difficult. Also, our results show that no safe limit exists and that many abrupt shifts already occur for global warming levels much lower than two degrees,” he adds.
Examples of detected climate tipping include abrupt shifts in sea ice and ocean circulation patterns, as well as abrupt shifts in vegetation and marine productivity. Sea ice abrupt changes were particularly common in the climate simulations. However, various models also predict abrupt changes in Earth system elements such as the Amazon forest, tundra permafrost and snow on the Tibetan plateau.

“Interestingly, abrupt events could come out as a cascade of different phenomena,” adds Victor Brovkin, a co-author from Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M). “For example, a collapse of permafrost in Arctic is followed by a rapid increase in forest area there. This kind of domino effect should have implications not only for natural systems, but also for society.”
“The majority of the detected abrupt shifts are distant from the major population centres of the planet, but their occurrence could have implications over large distances.” says Martin Claussen, director of the MPI-M and one of the co-authors. “Our work is only a starting point. Now we need to look deeper into mechanisms of tipping points and design an approach to diagnose them during the next round of climate model simulations for IPCC.”

Press link for more: South Hampton University